The Perfect American Pancake in London

Balans Pancakes

About a few years ago there was a lack of good American-style restaurants here in London. Now they are all over the place!

And what's the best thing about American-style restaurants? Well everything, of course, but more specifically, breakfast, and there is nothing like having American-style pancakes — the light and fluffy kind, with lots and lots of syrup — for breakfast.

Which brings us to this list: the best places to have American-style pancakes in London.

Giraffe

Giraffes are all over London, so you're never too far away from one, and it's easy to spot their colorful logo. Giraffe serves delicious blueberry and banana pancakes, stacked about three inches high. They put the bananas in between the pancakes, which are made with blueberries. It is quite a meal, and you will enjoy every bite, with lots of syrup of course. Giraffe ticks all the boxes for making the perfect American pancake, however, I've noticed that some of the Giraffe's don't serve pancakes at all. And the ones that do serve them have them on the menu until noon on the weekends. I went with a few friends of mine to the Giraffe right off Marylebone High Street on at Saturday at 1:00 p.m., all of us craving pancakes, but they had stopped serving them an hour ago. So my advise is to call and make sure the Giraffe you are going to does have pancakes on the menu, and if they do, make sure you get there in time to order them. And at £6.95 for the stack, it is a meal that might fill you up until dinnertime.

Balans

I recently went into Balan's restaurant on Old Compton Street and had the best pancakes I have ever had in London. The two pancakes were the size of the plate, with fresh fruit on top (see photo), and cooked to a nice golden brown color. Not too well-cooked and not too heavy, they were absolutely perfect. Having been to Balans many dozens of times and having eaten the same dish, I find Balans to be very inconsistent in their pancake-making. Sometimes their pancakes are half the size, so I guess it depends which chef is on duty at the time of ordering. The pancakes are very affordable at a price of £6.35, with your choice of fruit or bacon. And the best thing is that you can order the pancakes anytime you want. There are Balans locations in Soho, Kensington High Street, Westfield London and Stratford City. There are two Balans Cafes in Soho on Old Compton Street, which are different.

The Diner

For perfect, consistent pancakes, go to The Diner. With seven London locations including Carnaby Street, Islington, Covent Garden, Camden, Spitalfields, Gloucester Road and Shoreditch, The Diner has a top-to-bottom American-style menu, with the look and feel of a real American diner (complete with mini jukeboxes at each table!). Their pancakes come in three different types (with your choice of a stack of three or five): plain buttermilk pancakes, blueberry pancakes, or banana pancakes. The stack of five plain pancakes is £7.30 and the other two cost £8.40. If you ask me, that is quite a lot of money for pancakes. Instead, go for the three-stack option: plain is £5.50 and the other two are £6.50. Feel free to add a breakfast side dish to your meal, with eggs at £0.50 each, chorizo at £2.50, or even some French toast at a measly £1.50. The Diner's food is always consistent, and most importantly their breakfast menu is served all day, every day.

The Breakfast Club

This rapidly growing London chain, with branches in Soho, Hoxton, Angel, Spitalfields, and coming soon to London Bridge, serves pancakes as well as amazing breakfasts. The pancakes are a bit on the thin side, and heavy (as opposed to fluffy). They are good but could be better. And at £7.50 for the pancakes and berries and £8.00 for pancakes with bacon, they don't come cheap. The Breakfast Club is a good option when you don't care how much money you are spending, and their locations are cool places to just hang around and people watch (especially the one in Hoxton). Breakfast is served all day (hence the name!). But beware of the queues, especially at the Soho and Angel locations; wait times could be 30 minutes or more!

Kau 'Aina

This place used to be called Thanks for Franks, but the couple who owned it sold the space to three men who have transformed it into what can be described as London's only Hawaiin-themed restaurant, with a menu to match. Whilst the menu is not that different from Thanks for Franks' menu, the sandwiches and hamburgers are Hawaiin-themed (think lots of pineapple). Their pancakes have changed a bit as well. For an extremely cheap £5.45, you get two small pancakes, two eggs, and two delicious American-style sausage patties. While the pancakes are as good as they've always been at this place (though you only get two), it's the sausage patties that make this dish a real meal. If you prefer the fruitier kind of pancakes, best to order the banana or berries pancakes, a snip at £4.50, or the bacon and pancakes meal at only £4.95. This is one of the cheaper breakfast options in central London, so the tiny restaurant (with a few tables upstairs and a few more downstairs) is busy most of the time. Luckily for us, the new owners have kept the cooks from Thanks for Franks, who've been cooking there for more than 10 years each.

Jackson & Rye

The newest American-style restaurant to open in London, Jackson & Rye has been pretty much booked solid since it's November opening. As for pancakes, yes, of course they do serve them here. If you go for brunch on a weekend, you're going to pay £5.95 for three medium size pancakes. They are very good, but a bit on the small side. Add £1.95 for bacon. What adds to the effect of your pancake eating experience is the southern-style atmosphere, with lighting, tables and music that make you feel you are in a saloon somewhere in the deep south. As a bonus, sausage patties are on the menu, and they are very delicious. They actually taste like the famous and very tasty Jimmy Dean sausages sold in the United States. Jackson & Rye is worth a visit, especially during the week when it's less crowded; on the weekends this place gets jam-packed, and you can wait an hour for a table if you don't have a reservation.

Grill Shack

This place is the best deal in town. For a measly £3.50, you get three large, very delicious buttermilk apple pancakes, though you might have to ask for more syrup, as what you are given is a very tiny cup that's half full. For a mere £1.50 you can add bacon. Or better, for another £1.50 you can add a large plate of eggs. Orders are taken at the counter as there is no table service, so this saves money on a tip (the food is delivered to your tables by a food runner). However, just recently, Grill Shack changed their coffee from filter to freshbrew, so now it takes longer for the coffee to be made (which you make yourself). Unfortunately this means that now, if you get there at the breakfast rush hour, there's quite a queue for the coffee machine, which bottlenecks with the orders queue. Grill Shack, if you are reading this, the new coffee system doesn't work. Please bring back the filter coffee machine, and the second free cup refill. Despite this, Grill Shack (which opened last September) is the best deal financially, and has the best pancakes, in town.

If you know of any restaurants in London serving pancakes that I might've missed above, then please write in and let me know. I will be more than happy to try them out!